Equipped

I bike commute 28 miles most workdays year-round and have been doing it now for more than six years almost entirely on the same bike, a 2010 REI Novara Randonee touring bike. At this point I estimate that my go-to ride now has somewhere north of 20,000 miles on it, so it needs some regular…

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Picaridin hit the U.S. market in 2005 as an alternative to DEET, the long-time (since 1946) champion of keeping insects at bay. As I wrote back in 2012 (Picaridin vs. DEET: Which Is the Best Insect Repellent?), the evidence at the time indicated that picaridin is at least as good a repellent as DEET. What’s…

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If you’re hiking with kids, the single most important thing you can do is ensure they have fun, enjoy the experience, and continue on a path of  loving the outdoors. Having a few key items of gear can help with that goal, while keeping them safe at the same time. Here are seven things I…

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Having the means and ability to make an emergency fire is an essential survival skill. It requires two key items: something that generates a spark or flame, and tinder to catch the spark or flame and start your fire. For the latter, I have long recommended Vaseline-coated cotton balls (though a variety of other pre-made…

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There comes a point when insect repellent just doesn’t cut it. Sometimes the biting bugs are just too thick and ferocious to deal with, whether it’s a swarm of black flies, mosquitoes, no-see-ums, or some other collection of flying blood-sucking micro-monsters. Even if you’re using enough insect repellent to keep them from biting, it can…

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It’s one of the most useful and versatile items I throw in my pack: a length of lightweight, all-purpose cord. From guylines to clotheslines, shoe laces to dog leashes, it’s remarkable how many different uses you can find for this simple, inexpensive item. Also amazing is the number of different types of cord available. Here’s…

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‘Tis the mud season in the mountains of New England, a good time to review how to keep stuff—including mud and slop—out of your footwear when you’re hiking. A key way to do this is to wear ankle gaiters over your hiking footwear, which blocks mud, grit, and other debris from getting inside, because hiking around…

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If your boots have been languishing in the closet all winter, or you’ve been using them to stomp through the snowy season, it’s time to get them cleaned, conditioned, and ready to go. Here’s the three-step process I recommend. (And while this post is geared toward all-leather hiking boots rather than boots constructed from fabric…

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Ultralight backpacking quilts have been around for years. Now they are one of the leading items of gear used by Appalachian trail thru-hikers. One company in particular, Minnesota-based Enlightened Equipment, has become a go-to for ultralight hikers. What is a backpacking quilt? Backpacking quilts are essentially down blankets that have been modified to perform in…

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If you’re out adventuring in sub-freezing conditions, you should be regularly stuffing calories into your face. You want to ensure you have ample energy to generate body heat and sustain the level of exertion that is required to snowshoe, ski, or otherwise tromp through a snow- and ice-covered landscape. The challenge is that many common hiking…

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